There are many tips for increasing milk supply, but keep in mind different methods work differently for everyone. Finding tips for increasing your milk supply can be essential when you want your becoming discouraged due to low production and only want your baby to have the best of the best, yours. There are many reasons one may be exclusively pumping, or just pumping. Many new mommies have to go back to work causing them to have to pump so that while their gone their little one may be fed their wonderful milk. If you’re like me or other NICU mommies it may be because your little preemie isn’t quite ready to eat. It also may just be that they aren’t quite ready to breastfeed and are exclusively tube or bottle-feeding. I remember specifically telling Andrè’s doctor that when the time was right I didn’t want him being fed formula. Hopefully you find what tip(s) work for you.
1.) Hand expression!
This is a huge step to do when you’re just beginning to pump and feel that you’re not getting much. It is found to increase milk supply by over 100% in your first few weeks of pumping. It helps stimulate milk production as well as alleviates engorged breasts when your hefty supply decides to come in. It’s as simple as washing your hands with warm water. Then, start to massage around your breast in a complete circle. I usually use two fingers and massage in small circles completely around my breasts. This will stimulate your milk ducts. Then position your hands in a “C” above or below your nipple. Put your thumb above your nipple. It should rest approximately 1 inch (2.54 cm) above your nipple. Place the first 2 fingers of your hand 1 inch (2.54 cm) below your nipple directly in line with your thumb. Feel free to adjust your finger placement for your breast size. Remember to refrain from cupping your breast in this position. Finally, apply pressure with both of your fingers slowly moving inwards. Loosen your fingers as you bring them back to where you began and repeat bringing your fingers inward.
I was taught this hand expression method by lactation consultants at the hospital. If it doesn’t work you don’t give up and research other ways. Keep in mind, it takes multiple sessions to take in effect!
2.) Drink lots of water!
If you’re already drinking enough water there’s no need to drink more but, if you find you haven’t been drinking the minimum it can be a reason as to your low supply. The average adult needs 64 oz, women who are breastfeeding need an extra 32 oz.
3.) Pump more often.
Pumping more often will tell your body that it needs more milk hence, creating a greater supply. You don’t want to go overboard and pump every hour however, add an extra session or two during the day.
4.) Do skin to skin with your little one.
If your baby is at home take some time to place your baby on your bare chest and relax. It’s not only good for them but, tells your body they are there! If your baby is in the NICU ask your nurse if you are able to do so. Most of the time nurses highly encourage skin to skin however, may say no if your babies condition interferes. Personally I have found this extremely useful. The first night I was able to finally hold André I chose to do skin to skin. Even with his breathing tube stabbing my chest it was one of my happiest moments. Couple hours later my milk came in! I have even found that although I have just pumped my breasts will begin dripping while doing skin to skin.
5.) Take Fenugreek.
There are plenty of other herbs you may try but, I have found fenugreek has the highest results. You can take fenugreek until it takes into effect then stop. In most cases your milk supply will stay. If you find it works for you and slowly begins to decline again feel free to resume. They should not be taken more than four capsules four times a day. Try starting at two capsules two times a day, give it a few days, then increase if needed.
You may also try Lactation drink mixes as many contain fenugreek and other everyday vitamins needed to keep you healthy and help boost your supply.
Note: Don’t be alarmed when you find one breast is producing much more than the other. That is completely normal.